ISO & Quality Management System

By Bharat Panchal, Head – Risk Management, National Payments Corporation of India

Today, ISO is widely recognised international standard for maintaining Quality Management System in an organisation. The implementation of ISO and Quality Management System requires companies to focus on the customer requirements and deliver products or services as per customer’s demand. However, this can be a challenging task as customer demands are dynamic. At the same time, if a company has implemented the Quality Management System effectively, at least the existing customers are ensured that it would lead to consistent performance of the product or service and this would lead to repeat sales for the company.  Besides, there are other benefits as well. ISO and Quality Management implementation is suitable for all types of companies regardless of their nature of business.  Also, since the ISO standard is generic in nature, it is suitable for any small or large organisation. Further, having an ISO certification builds the brand image of the organisation. Even when most large organisations wish to empanel new suppliers, they prefer companies who are ISO accredited. Large manufacturing companies sometimes outsource part of their production to smaller suppliers. These large organisations insist that their suppliers are ISO accredited. Having a robust Quality Management System also helps organisations to identify cost saving opportunities, reduce rework and enable the employees to take ownership for their activity.

Initially the implementation of ISO and Quality Management was focused mainly on manufacturing sector. However, the benefits of implementation have been observed by several service sector companies. Even the upgraded ISO standard has replaced the word “product” with “products or services”.  Earlier, when a company was ISO certified, lot of documentation would be maintained. Over a period of time, the ISO and Quality Management have evolved, and now it has great emphasis on the Risk assessment in an organisation and less on the documentation. ISO certified companies believe that this change would definitely make their systems strong internally and not just on paper. The company’s top management would also be happy as their staff would do more productive work. The customers too would get the desired output faster than the usual process.

The service industry has experienced several benefits by implementing ISO and Quality Management. The reduction of rework and delivering a faster output to customer has helped organisations identify their process gaps and re-engineer their processes.  Such case studies are showcased as best practices at various National and International forums by Service Industries to bag Quality Awards, thereby improving the brand image of the organisation. Besides, the service organisations who deal in financial transactions like Banks or financial services would also benefit due to the introduction of Risk Assessment in the upgraded ISO standard. This would help organisations to have control over their processes and reduce or eliminate the chances of unexpected events. However, when organisation deal with overseas transactions, it becomes necessary to evaluate if the organisation and its customers want nationally or internationally recognised ISO accredited certificate.

Although there are various factors that attribute to the success of ISO and Quality management, it begins by selecting the right certification body. There are many certification bodies available; however it is important to select a good certification body with qualified and knowledgeable team of auditors. Their audit experience and qualification can be assessed by asking for their profile prior audit.

One of the internal factors which result into success of ISO and Quality Management for the organisation is an effective implementation and maintenance of the requirements of the standard. This means not just doing a one-time activity of documenting the processes, Quality Policy and Quality Objectives but also ensuring these documents get reviewed, measured and monitored at regular intervals. The employees in the organisation need to be sensitised and aware about the requirement of the standard. Also, when the Top Management members are actively involved in the frequent reviews, it gives an indication to the employees the importance of ISO and Quality Management in the organisation.Another aspect that brings success is the rigorous and unbiased ISO Internal audits that are done in an organisation. Some organisation appoint a consultant for conducting an Internal audit while others have a team of employees who are qualified to conduct an audit. Although the audits done by a consultant are appropriate, at times the consultant may not know the business of the organisation completely. On the other hand, some organisations prefer to have a consultant, as audits done by him are taken seriously. The perspective of this audit would be to bring improvements in the organisation. However, there is always a risk that the internal auditors would be biased towards few teams in an organisation. Thus, it is very important for any organisation to make the right selection for completing the internal audits. 

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